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Half a Cup of Sand and Sky by Nadine…

Half a Cup of Sand and Sky (edition 2023)

by Nadine Bjursten (Author)

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2821842,223 (3.75)6
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Title:Half a Cup of Sand and Sky
Authors:Nadine Bjursten (Author)
Info:Alder House Books (2023), 400 pages
Collections:Your library

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Half a Cup of Sand and Sky by Nadine Bjursten


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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was super looking forward to learning more about Iranian activism, but unfortunately the writing here is very unpolished. The dialogue is stilted and awkward, the framing entirely telling with no showing, and I think it needed more editing. Additionally, this is my fault but, I was hoping to reading an Own Voices situation, but the author is not Iranian. I should have vetted better. But, bad writing + not an own voices = moving on to better written books.
  FieldsLibrary | May 3, 2024 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was very slow to start with but I liked the way she put her heart on the page. It really sped up towards the end and I felt cheated that this final section was rushed. I felt it a bit unbelievable that she and her 7 year old sun would jump into the cold north sea, but I do see it symbolised a new birth. An insight to what life was like at that time there
  LizStevens | Feb 25, 2024 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A novel of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the country's politics afterward. The protagonist. Amineh, is a young university student in 1977, she marries a somewhat older man and they have two children. They struggle to come to terms with the new regime. We follow her life through 1998 when she is forced to leave Iran.

I struggled a bit in the early chapters where there were a lot of flashbacks to Aminah's childhood. Then I found the rhythm of story and the spirit of the many well drawn characters. Because Amineh's husband is very involved in a small international anti-nuclear arms group this issue sometimes overshadows the other issues going on in the fundamentalist regime, particularly the status of women. This causes conflict in the marriage and this is one of the main themes of the novel. A well written tale with good descriptions of the landscape and culture of Iran. I've read several novels set in and around The Revolution and this is one of the best.

( )
  seeword | Jan 21, 2024 |
“And then she added that nothing was too lowly to feel love and to be made better by it.”

I adored this book! This beautifully written story was well thought out and researched, rich in history and culture, and engaging from start to finish. What resonated with me the most were the quiet scenes, which provided time for contemplation and reflection. These moments allowed me to establish a deeper connection with the characters, feel their emotions, and be transported into their world.

The characters were well-drawn, and the author's ability to delve deep into the innermost thoughts and feelings of her characters is admirable. I especially loved Jalalod-Din for his wisdom, kindness, and the joyful way he engages with life. Amineh, the main character, is intelligent, strong, determined, and caring. I was fully invested in her story and her journey of self-discovery. It was relatable and inspiring, and it will make you reflect on your own life.

“How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all of its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light against its being.”

This was such a great debut novel! I highly recommend this wonderful story about love, sacrifice, hope, and the remarkable strength of the human spirit. It's a true masterpiece that will stay with you for a long time.

Thank you, BookishFirst, NetGalley, the publisher Alder House Books, and author Nadine Bjursten for the gifted copy! I received a free copy of this book, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. ( )
  thehungrymoth | Jan 21, 2024 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am disappointed that what could have been an interesting look at the politics of Iran during the revolution was instead a domestic drama from the perspective of a housewife. Amineh’s husband is very politically involved, but he shares nothing with the little wifey. Amineh also seems very blinkered—she’s concerned in a nebulous way with what’s going on in her country, but passively drifts from college student to housewife and mother without any interior reflection. Instead, she’s concerned about just how she’s measuring up as a wife. The measure of her life is her personal relationships.
When she attends nuclear disarmament meetings of the international group of activists to which her husband belongs, there’s talk, talk, talk like a history textbook, while Amineh stews over jealousy of her husband’s relationship with a female member and over her feelings for her husband’s friend Patrik.
In the acknowledgments, the author mentions the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. I felt the novel was lacking in the societal & political department. There was too much of Amineh’s personal angst about her marriage, her self-effacement, her lack of agency. Even the deaths and death threats attributable to the political situation are curiously depoliticized. A personal perspective on the Iranian revolution would have been illuminating and valuable. We could have had details about how the cultural upheaval affected individual lives. But outside events are dropped in from time to time and seem to have no serious impact on Amineh’s personal life at all, which is all about her family, analyzing her relationship with her husband, who is a political activist for goodness sake!, her anxiety and self-doubt. After the revolution, did Amineh switch from European clothes to wearing a chador in public? Unmentioned. She voluntarily gave up her job. What about other women? The women never discussed their feelings about the cultural changes of Sharia law being imposed. How did they feel about women being disenfranchised, ousted from jobs and positions of power, barred from studying certain subjects? About the rescission of women’s rights and human rights? About floggings and stonings? About executions of gay men? I think the author wanted to counter the “axis of evil” stereotypes of Iran, but ignoring these issues is not an effective way to do that. ( )
  Charon07 | Jan 6, 2024 |
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“What was said to the rose that made it open was said to me here in my chest.”

To all the activists in Iran and the world trying to save us from ourselves.

To Siri and Nora. You will find that most things in life are more complicated than they appear, yet I wish you many simple, beautiful moments. May you always remember your hearts.
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Amineh's mother used to say that their damask rose, which had made her family farm famous, was poetry come to life—not ordinary poetry but the kind that sprang from Rumi or Hāfez, the kind that didn't merely touch heaven but was it.
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